• Look for ghouls, goblins and super heroes on your doorstep tonight, but don’t expect many miniature suit-wearing insurance underwriter wannabes.

    I’ve seen several comments recently regarding whether safety glass installed in storefronts prior to 1977 should be replaced, or if it is grandfathered. I’m surprised this situation isn’t caught and resolved through insurance underwriting.

    Don’t the insurance companies weigh in on liability insurance and inspect a business’s premises the same way they do homes? When my wife and I bought our current home, we had to schedule the insurance people to walk through it before closing so they could confirm the roofing type, distance to a fire hydrant and other details. They even pointed out one or two things that needed to be done in order for them to carry the policy.

    Isn’t this same thing done with business insurance coverage? For example, it seems like a lot of the reduction in job-related injuries over the years has been insurance-driven. The insurance carriers come in, inspect the premises, make recommendations for changes and underwrite what’s being done correctly. It’s a pretty pro-active process, making changes before someone gets hurt, not afterwards. I wonder if the storefront glass in a restaurant, in the old hardware store downtown, at Bill’s Barber Shop on the square, etc., is one of the things insurers inspect when they walk the premises.

    I’m not advocating that insurers be the safety police; it’s just curious how potential code compliance problems end up getting past them.

    On a different note, I was glad to see that the recent ill-informed suggestion to use wired glass as a bullet-resistant material was spit back out as quickly as it was put out there as the hokum it is. I was proud to see the reaction from some of our industry people who know the ins and outs of glass. Traditional wired glass is not impact or bullet-resistant, so it is not really a defense against school intruders.

    Compared to annealed glass, traditional wired glass was considered 50 percent weaker than annealed glass in some of the older codes. The wiring isn’t all that strong. I get the fact that the wires might remain captured around the edges, and that might be a deterrent. But with a gun, how does it block any subsequent shots after the first one that shatters it? The wire’s not strong enough or sufficient to stop bullets on its own. And the self-described “expert’s” statement didn’t come with any backup or testing, just that the wire had stayed in the opening.

    Lastly, in honor of Lyle Hill and his quotes of the week, I offer this one I heard recently from Loren Supp, AIA, lead designer with Gensler in Seattle: “Architects try to take science and synthesize it into art.”

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